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WEATHER

Snow strains buildings to breaking point

Heavy snowfall in southern and central parts of Sweden has caused several roofs to cave in, while rail authorities have called a halt to a number of train services amid continuing extreme weather conditions.

An elderly man was killed on Friday when a machine storage shed gave way on a farm in Håcksvik, 50 kilometres south of Borås in western Sweden. The walls and roof of the structure are believed to have yielded at 5.30pm to the weight of the snow that fell in large quantities over the course of the day.

In Vänersborg, disaster struck at 3.30am on Saturday as the roof on the western town’s brand new stadium caved in. Local sports authorities said the roof had been cleared of all snow over the course of Friday. But the efforts were not enough to prevent a collapse, as a 100 square metre section of the roof plunged to the surface of the bandy pitch in the middle of the night. There were no reports of any injuries but there is thought to be a high risk of further collapse.

“Nobody dares to go in or go up on the roof. I don’t know how we’re going to go about this, it’s not going to be an easy one to solve,” emergency services coordinator Karl-Erik Johansson told local newspaper TTELA.

The stadium, which was opened in September last year, has come in for sharp criticism locally for the high cost of its construction. Originally projected to cost 140 million kronor ($20 million), the local council has so far paid out 275 million kronor to contractors and suppliers.

There was also snow damage in nearby Falkenberg when the roof of an industrial building fell in.

Rabbits were the unwitting victims of the weather in Nyköping, 100 kilometres south of Stockholm, when a wall and half the roof of a tennis hall collapsed. A national rabbit show was taking place in the building at the time. No humans were injured but an estimated half of the 1,648 rabbits were trapped inside.

The country’s roads were also seriously affected by the heavy snow.

“A lot of cars have driven into the ditch but there have been no serious injuries. It’s very slippery on the roads at the moment. People should take it easy in traffic,” said Pernilla Sundell at Stockholm county police.

A number of trains have been cancelled as a result of the adverse weather conditions. All rail traffic was halted on Saturday morning between Gothenburg and Karlstad, Uddevalla and Herrljunga, as well as between Eskilstuna and Arboga. Replacement buses have been brought in to replace rail service on the lines affected.

“The rail authority (Banverket) has decided to reduce traffic. Large quantities of snow have fallen that need to be cleared before trains can get through,” said Carl Gustaf Olsson, spokesman for rail operator SJ.

All other rail traffic is proceeding as normal, though there are delays on a number of routes.

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WEATHER

Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Several places around Sweden broke temperature records over the weekend, as unusually warm weather for March bathed the northern half of the country.

Swedish towns set record for warmest March weekend

Torpshammar, near Sundsvall in Västernorrland, on Sunday recorded a temperature of 16.8C.

This was the highest temperature registered anywhere in the country so far this year, although Gävle and Delsbo in Gävleborg were close behind, with both recording a temperature of 16.7C. 

“It’s been warm across the country, but it’s been mostly in the middle and north of Norrland that we’ve had temperatures that are a long way above normal,” Ida Dahlström, a meteorologist with state weather forecaster SMHI, told the TT newswire.

For Delsbo 16.7C is the highest temperature recorded in March since records began in 1898. The cities of Kiruna and Umeå, and the harbour town of Örskär, where records began in 1898, 1858, and 1937 respectively, also all set new March records.

Gäddede and Frösön, both close to the Norwegian border in Jämtland, registered the warmest March day since 1945, while the nearby Storlien registered the warmest March day since 1881.

Dahlström said that cold wind would soon bring an end to the balmy temperatures, with snow expected on Tuesday in many of the central parts of Sweden currently enjoying unusual spring warmth. 

Last year, Sweden recorded the third-hottest June on record, with Stockholm seeing its hottest ever month.

“June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in my hometown Stockholm, by a large margin,” climate campaigner Greta Thunberg tweeted at the time. “The second hottest June was in 2020. The third in 2019,” she added.

“Am I sensing a pattern here? Nah, probably just another coincidence.”

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